Earlier this week, I sat down and went through Zagat’s listing of NYC’s 100 Best Restaurants. It turned out I’d been to 19 of the 100, and I was excited to realize that our team’s dinner with our team at Federated Media would not only mean an evening of great conversation, but also bring me up to 20! I’d always been curious about Ai Fiori. I’m sure I’ve walked by countless times never realizing that’s where it was.
We were in the back room, with a very official door sealing our group off from the rest of the restaurant. We had a special menu from which to choose one of two selections for each of our four courses. To start, I had the Insalata di Astice – which was Nova Scotia lobster, charred corn salad, and ricotta salata. This was a nice thing to see as I feel like we’re bidding adieu to lobster until warmer weather returns. It’s like Ai Fiori knew I am not quite ready to see it go.
For the pasta course, I had the Pansotti di Anatra, which was duck confit parcels, romanesco, parmesan, and lemon. It was nice to have duck in pasta form. Sometimes a full entree of just duck can become overwhelming. Having it not only in smaller bites but also if being confit made it a lighter take on duck, and the parmesean was a nice touch.
When it came to choosing an entree, I was intrigued by a halibut option but ultimately just had to go with the Tagliata, which was a prime dry aged strip loin, endive, potato terrine, “cacio e pepe,” balsamico, and bordelaise. The meet was super tender, and the endive ended up being a perfect paring. If it was possible to choose to get a portion size along these lines off of the main menu, I think I’d order much more red meat. Just perfect.
For dessert, I elected to skip the chocolate and instead try the Panna Cotta, which was served with blackberries, grapes, and a very light sorbet. It ended up being a perfect finale and was a nice balance to the meat dish preceding it. I’ve been underwhelmed by panna cottas as of late, but this one was spot on.
Overall it was a wonderful evening, much worth of their spot on Zagat’s listing. Ai Fiori is a fabulous spot for a special occasion dinner (or just a special treat, as well).
Ai Fiori – 400 5th Avenue, 2nd Level – 212.613.8660